Sunday, December 28, 2014

In Which I Celebrate My First Baptism, Christmas, and Transfer Call!

Christmas caroling with missionaries and members.


It has been quite an eventful few weeks, so I will just start at the top. Last Sunday I had my first baptism! Bong Naid and her two daughters Sokmian and Srei Pech. It was really great. We had the baptism right after church, and we were happy to see a lot of the members stay. And Bong Naid's husband came, so the whole family was there! We're still holding him to his commitment to learn in January. Because our church building is a rental for now, our baptismal font is outside. So when the time came to get baptized, we all followed outside to the front to watch. All three came out of the water with huge smiles on their faces. And Srei Pech (who is nine-years-old but about the size of a six-year-old) came jumping up out of the water as the elder lifted her back up. It was cute. After the baptism all three got to share their testimonies. All were short and sweet. And they had to pull up a chair for Srei Pech to stand on to see over the podium. Unfortunately there was a bit of a disagreement with the refreshments afterwards. One woman in the ward took probably more than her fair share in her purse and another member of the ward saw and got upset. Long story short, they had to call the branch president and the whole ward was talking about it. It's all we've heard about all week visiting with members. Thankfully when it happened our recent converts had already left, but they had already heard about it the next day and Bong Naid was quite disenchanted. We ended up teaching a lesson on love and the fact that we are all imperfect people. It was an important lesson to learn, but it came quite soon for her. 

Yesterday they got confirmed. I think it was a good experience for them. We met with them last night, and they are so cool! Here's an example we learned from Bong Naid (which really I only heard through Sis P because I still don't understand this language!). Sokmian is twelve, and she goes to a Chinese school. Every morning they have a religious ceremony where they worship Chinese gods (we're not really sure about this part, but it wasn't Buddha). After we taught the Ten Commandments and the importance of only worshiping God, she's been going to school ten or fifteen minutes late every day to skip the religious stuff. But the problem is that they kick out Christians. Bong Naid asked us last night if this is dishonest. We told her to pray about it. That we couldn't make a decision one way or the other for her. But this just goes to show you how great they are! So many of our members still have ancestral shrines in their houses. But this family gets it. 

Tuesday I went on exchanges with Sister E. in her area. As always, exchanges were super fun. It's always nice to break up the routine, and it's fun to see how other people work. Also, because it was the last proselyting day before Christmas, the elders in their area decided to go caroling! It was super fun! Sis E. and I went with the two of them and then three members came as well. There are only two Christmas songs in the Khmer hymnbook, but they are making a new one, so the other Christmas songs are translated but no one knows them yet. So singing those proved to be interesting. Also, from my limited experience singing hymns in church, staying on key or even choosing one key to sing isn't important here. And between the elders (who couldn't really sing much) and me (who still can't read at a singing-level pace quite yet) we proved to be a less than melodious choir. And the members who we visited were quite confused. Most felt the need to join in (which I think is actually a good way to do it. Because let's be real, it's awkward to just stand there and smile as a crowd of carolers makes their way through a million verses of Far Far Away on Judea's Plains. Eventually your mouth goes numb.) But we gave them little wrapped treats. And it was a lot of fun. We biked home through the rice fields in the dark singing Christmas songs. 

The next morning we left for the city first thing! In order to make it in time to participate in the service project, we took a van down. It was the best trip down yet. It was only missionaries in the van (and the driver) so we plugged in Christmas music. We made it to the stake center in PP in time to help with the service project (which was putting together temple-prep gift bags for the youth in all the branches). 

Though it was only Christmas Eve, it was our real Christmas party. We played games and had a white elephant gift exchange (I ended up with pencils?), and had a talent show. The talent show was super fun. President Moon did some sort of monologue from a movie in which he sang and talked about taking a dog to college. It was totally unexpected, but it was funny. And we had delicioussss meals. Made by some very kind members. Curry for lunch and a traditional chicken/potatoes/rolls Christmas dinner with brownies, ice cream, and cookies for dessert! And we ended the night with a Christmas devotional. 

It was really great to see everyone again. We got a picture of our MTC district all reunited again. It was fun too to hear about all our different areas and baptisms and nice to hear that everyone else is struggling with the language as much as I am (whether or not that's actually true). It was REALLY great to  see Sister S. and Sister H. (MTC friends) again. It feels like it's been soo long!! And it was really just nice to be with so many missionaries. I think being out in the kites has made me forget that their are so many of us. It was fun to meet more people. 

We spent the night at the mission home and actually got caroled to there by some youth in a ward in the city. We all came out to the front gate in our pajamas! And then the next morning we headed back to the stake center for training. We went over goals, had a testimony meeting, had a KFC catered lunch, and then it was back on the bus. A much too quick trip. But it was made longer by our bus breaking down. We waited about an hour on the roadside and another hour at a rest stop. But it wasn't too bad because the bus wasn't crowded at all. And the important thing is we all made it back in one piece. 

The next morning we had the chance to Skype home! forty minutes was MUCH too quick. We decided ten Skype minutes is the equivalent of one real minute. It was hard to get back into proselyting that afternoon. But we did it. 

Anddddd just yesterday we found out about transfer calls! I was nervous for it all day. The sisters kept tricking me by calling our phone and pretending to be the district leader. But the call finally came around 9:00. Sis P will be staying, and I will be headed to the city to an area called Pochentong! My companion's name is Sister Jet. She is from Cambodia. I will actually be replacing Sister S. (my MTC companion). I'm excited! It's starting to hit me that I will be leaving in just a few days! I will really miss a lot of people here. And I will be sad to miss baptisms that will be happening next month. But I'm excited to start afresh. And working in the city sounds like it will be a whole new world. So I'm excited!

I'm running out of time. So I won't say much more. Just that this week I read Romans chapter 8. Look it up. It's really great.

Hope everyone had good Christmases! 

Love You!

Sister Fields

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